Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Setting the Calculation Default.

Setting the Calculation Default

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2015)

Durward wrote concerning a problem he was having with calculation settings in his Excel. He indicated that according to all he had read, the calculation setting for Excel (Manual or Automatic) defaults to Automatic. Yet somehow, when Durward opens a new workbook, the calculation setting is set to Manual. This happens on his work system as well as his home system. He wonders if there a way to reset the calculation setting back to Automatic.

Testing has shown that the calculation setting is set to Automatic by default. It will only be set to Manual if (1) you have changed the default workbook to one that has the calculation mode set to Manual; (2) if there is some sort of AutoOpen macro that sets the calculation mode; (3) if you have some automatically loading workbooks (XLS or XLT, including Personal.xls) that have calculation set to Manual; or (4) if you start Excel by double-clicking, in Windows, on a workbook that has calculation set to Manual.

Note, especially, conditions 3 and 4. Excel may very well be starting with the calculation mode set to Automatic, but it is overridden by the setting within the file that is first opened. If that workbook has calculation mode set to Manual, then Excel presumes you want Manual as your default calculation mode for that session. The only solution to this problem is to open those workbooks, change the calculation mode in them, save them, and restart Excel.

The other option is to add an AutoOpen macro to any of your workbooks that absolutely must be opened with calculation mode set to Automatic, no matter what. This can be a simple macro, such as the following:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
    Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
End Sub

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3255) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Setting the Calculation Default.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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